Dark Knight Leveling Guide
Guide Info
Last Updated: 27 Oct, 2021
Patch Applicable: 5.5

Introduction

First off, a word of warning: Do not use the gear given out by the first job quest. It is normal-quality, meaning its stats are significantly weaker than other gear of the same item level. The Steel Cuirass (ilvl30), for example, has about the same defense as a high-quality Iron Scale Mail (ilvl 23).

While this guide is not intended as a complete resource for tanking in dungeons and trials, the following section will provide a brief primer for those new to the role or who need a refresher. If you are already confident in your job as a tank, feel free to skip ahead to the last section, which covers the evolution of your rotation as you level up to max.

Know Your Role

Dungeons

  • Keep Grit active at all times. This multiplies all of your enmity generation by ten, allowing you to easily keep the attention of any enemies you damage. Entering a duty which syncs your level down will automatically toggle Grit off, so make sure the icon is present in your list of buffs before proceeding.
  • Make sure you establish hate on all targets. Even if there are only a couple targets present, or if one enemy needs to be singled out to kill first, don’t be afraid to fire off a couple AoE actions to make sure you keep the attention of all enemies before switching to single-target.
  • Rotate through your defensive cooldowns. Large groups of “trash” mobs usually deal significantly more damage than bosses do, so don’t be afraid to use all of your mitigation to get through a pull. In addition to Rampart, Shadow Wall, and The Blackest Night, remember that Reprisal and Arm’s Length are also potent tools. The term “slow” in the description of Arm’s Length means an attack speed reduction (“heavy” is a movement speed reduction), so it will inflict a significant debuff to all mobs which attack you. However, this is ineffective on almost all bosses.
  • Try to keep moving until you have gathered up all the enemies you wish to pull at once, and then stay in one spot until they are all dead. Many jobs have ground-targeted AoE abilities which will heal you or damage enemies and which cannot be moved after being placed. Players also regenerate HP and mana much more quickly while not in combat, so bringing stragglers over to the next group will impact your resource generation, which is especially dangerous for healers.
  • Don’t be afraid to pull more than one group at once. Even in very low-level dungeons, your AoE damage output is quite high and can make up for any party members stuck with only single-target actions. Healing actions are also relatively strong at low levels, so it takes an extremely large group of enemies to outpace your healer’s output.

Trials and Raids

  • Don’t fight for aggro! Only one tank should have their tank stance on at the start of a fight so that the helaers know who to pay attention to. The other tank(s) should turn their stances on after threat is firmly established in case of tank swaps or death of the main tank.
  • Make sure to face the boss away from the party. Many bosses have cleave attacks, which will hit their target and any party members nearby.
  • Hold steady. Melee jobs all have positionals, meaning they need to hit the back or sides of their target for the greatest value. Moving or spinning the boss makes their life much more difficult. Boss movement is perfectly acceptable if you need to dodge an AoE or resolve a mechanic.
  • Pick up any additional targets (“adds”) that appear if you are not holding the boss. Often, you can then bring them over to the boss in order to hit both at once with your AoE actions. In alliance raids, be on the lookout for phases where exactly three adds appear: you will be expected to tank one of them. Usually, the Alliance A tank will pick up the Westernmost add, Alliance B the Northernmost, and Alliance C the Easternmost.
  • Tank swaps are common in higher-level content. To execute a tank swap, the tank not holding the boss should make sure their stance is on and use Provoke, followed by a Shirk from their co-tank. Enemy attacks with castbars will lock in their target at the start of the cast, so you can and should use Provoke while the cast is still in progress.

Skill Usage

Dark Knight’s leveling rotation is fairly straightforward, but it does evolve a fair bit as you level up. This section will cover the more significant additions and how to use the most significant additions to your kit as you receive them. This is not an exhaustive rundown of every action, so if something is not mentioned here, it is either less important or just intuitive on how to use it properly in dungeons.

Levels 1-50

Level 1-25

Dark Knight starts at level 30, but some duties will sync you down to a lower level. At very low levels, your priority is:

  • Single-target combo (Hard Slash -> Syphon Strike) on single targets.
  • Unleash on 2+ targets.

Level 26

New action: Souleater. This completes your single-target combo with additional damage and healing, and changes your priority slightly:

  • Souleater combo (Hard Slash -> Syphon Strike -> Souleater) on 1-2 targets.
  • Unleash on 3+ targets.

Level 30

New action: Flood of Darkness. This provides additional AoE damage and grants Darkside, which will buff all of your damage by 10%. Don’t be afraid to spend your mana at the start of a pull; while you don’t regenerate enough mana while using Unleash to keep Darkside active indefinitely, you would need to stay in combat for an extraordinary length of time to actually drop it.

  • Souleater combo on 1-2 targets.
  • Unleash on 3+ targets.
  • Flood of Darkness on 1+ targets.

Level 35

New action: Blood Weapon. Grants a small amount of mana for each GCD landed during its effect. Try to use it shortly before your next GCD (when the timer on the skill icon is past the lower-left corner) for the best chance at squeezing in the maximum number of hits. Because your AoE combo GCDs (at this point, only Unleash) are spells which are unaffected by Skill Speed, it isn’t feasible to hit the typical five GCDs during Blood Weapon with them. However, it is usually not worth it to hold Blood Weapon for a single-target window; just use it on cooldown during pulls.

  • Souleater combo on 1-2 targets.
  • Unleash on 3+ targets.
  • Flood of Darkness on 1+ targets.

Level 40

New action: Edge of Darkness. This is a single-target version of Flood of Darkness. Because it offers less total potency than a multi-target Flood, it should only be used where you wouldn’t otherwise be able to hit two or more enemies with Flood.

  • Souleater combo on 1-2 targets.
  • Unleash on 3+ targets.
  • Edge of Darkness on 1 target.
  • Flood of Darkness on 2+ targets.

Levels 51-60

Level 56

New action: Abyssal Drain. This is an AoE action that does a moderate amount of damage and heals the user for a flat potency for each target hit. While the damage is nice, the healing effect is more valuable for trash pulls. In very large pulls, it can restore quite a significant chunk of HP and allow your healer to catch up on healing or put out some extra damage of their own.

  • Souleater combo on 1-2 targets.
  • Unleash on 3+ targets.
  • Edge of Darkness on 1 target.
  • Flood of Darkness on 2+ targets.

Levels 61-70

Level 62

New action: Bloodspiller. While you unlocked your AoE mana spender before the single-target version, the reverse is true for your blood spenders. Bloodspiller does quite a bit of damage, will not break your combo, and is worth using even in smaller multi-target situations. Blood Weapon will also now grant blood per successful GCD landed during its effect.

  • Souleater combo on 1-2 targets.
  • Unleash on 3+ targets.
  • Edge of Darkness on 1 target.
  • Flood of Darkness on 2+ targets.
  • Bloodspiller on 1-3 targets.

Level 64

New action: Quietus. The AoE version of Bloodspiller. Unlike Flood, Quietus takes three targets to deal more total potency than its single-target variant.

  • Souleater combo on 1-2 targets.
  • Unleash on 3+ targets.
  • Edge of Darkness on 1 target.
  • Flood of Darkness on 2+ targets.
  • Bloodspiller on 1-2 targets.
  • Quietus on 3+ targets.

Level 68

New action: Delirium. This nullifies the blood cost of Bloodspiller and Quietus for ten seconds. It is possible to get five-GCD Blood Weapon windows even in AoE situations by using Blood Weapon after your first Quietus under Delirium. However, you should not hold Blood Weapon for these opportunities, as Delirium has a longer cooldown and getting four GCDs of Blood Weapon every minute is still better than getting five GCDs of Blood Weapon every 90 seconds.

  • Souleater combo on 1-2 targets.
  • Unleash on 3+ targets.
  • Edge of Darkness on 1 target.
  • Flood of Darkness on 2+ targets.
  • Bloodspiller on 1-2 targets.
  • Quietus on 3+ targets.

Level 70

New action: The Blackest Night (“TBN”). While Dark Knight can feel a bit squishy below level 70, TBN will add an absolutely massive amount of mitigation to your kit. If the shield granted by TBN breaks rather than expires, the user gains a Dark Arts proc, which makes the next Flood or Edge free to cast. At this level, you don’t have enough mana generation to use it on cooldown indefinitely, so you should be more conservative with your mana and primarily use Flood when you have a Dart Arts proc. However, you should try to use TBN only when you’re reasonably confident that the shield will break, or in emergencies.

  • Souleater combo on 1-2 targets.
  • Unleash on 3+ targets.
  • Edge of Darkness on 1 target.
  • Flood of Darkness on 2+ targets.
  • Bloodspiller on 1-2 targets.
  • Quietus on 3+ targets.

Levels 71-80

Level 72

New action: Stalwart Soul. This is the second hit of your AoE combo, and yes, that’s a gap of 57 levels in between. Stalwart Soul will ramp up your mana generation enough to use TBN on cooldown with a little bit of surplus. Feel free to dump mana at the start of a pull before reverting to the priority system of reserving your mana for TBN and using your Dark Arts proc for your Floods.

Stalwart Soul can also opens up a more advanced technique for getting five GCD Blood Weapon windows outside of Delirium by banking 100 blood and using Unleash -> Blood Weapon -> Quietus -> Quietus -> Stalwart Soul-> Quietus->Unleash.

  • Souleater combo on 1 target.
  • Stalwart Soul combo (Unleash -> Stalwart Soul) on 2+ targets.
  • Edge of Darkness on 1 target.
  • Flood of Darkness on 2+ targets.
  • Bloodspiller on 1-2 targets.
  • Quietus on 3+ targets.

Level 80

New action: Living Shadow. Living Shadow summons a clone which, after a delay, will autonomously attack nearby targets. Because of its extremely high potency per hit, it is superior to any other form of blood expenditure if it can get a single hit off against 2+ targets, or two hits versus a single target. It should be used as often as possible unless you can hold it for a short amount of time for a more efficient usage in the near future.

  • Souleater combo on 1 target.
  • Stalwart Soul combo on 2+ targets.
  • Edge of Shadow on 1 target.
  • Flood of Shadow on 2+ targets.
  • Living Shadow when available.
  • Bloodspiller on 1-2 targets.
  • Quietus on 3+ targets.